Jan 02

Big Win to Start Road Trip and Year

By mikebarrett
This is going to be a brief recap, and then I'll let you weigh in.  Arriving in Toronto isn't like arriving in other NBA cities, for obvious reasons, and I can tell you no one in our traveling party got to bed before 3 a.m.  And, with a game tonight, I'm not the only one behind schedule.  So, quick blog now, and then back tonight to recap the game against the Raptors.

First of all, huge win in New York last night.  There were a lot of impressive things about the evening, but what stood out to me was how prepared the Trail Blazers were to play.  That sounds like something that should go without saying, but it's not.  They had an excellent game plan, didn't get caught star watching at Madison Square Garden, and weren't bothered at all by the hoopla that surrounded the return of Amare Stoudemire. 

JJ Hickson was the power forward who should have been given the standing ovation, as he continued what has been an amazing run.  He wasn't on the court to finish the game, but he sure got it started for the Blazers.  Hickson helped the Blazers build a 19-point first-half lead, and ended with 18 points and 9 rebounds in just 24 minutes.  That's amazing productivity in his time on the court.

Even with Portland dominating the game early, New York fans didn't really seem that concerned in the first half, and Carmelo Anthony gave them plenty of reason to believe a big comeback was coming, when he hit a desperation three pointer right before the end of the first half that cut the Portland lead to 11, and sent the Knicks to the locker room with a ton of momentum.

To their credit, the Blazers answered early in the second half.  And, they continued to answer every New York run in the second half.  This is not an easy place to play.  Add to that, the buzz surrounding Stoudemire, the energy in the jam-packed building on New Year's Day, and Carmelo making heroic play after heroic play.

The Knicks did continue to chip away at Portland's lead, and had it down to three in the final minute, on a couple of occasions.  Then, Damian Lillard, who has never been bothered by big moments, hit the shot of the night for Portland.  With 35 seconds left, and he hit a cold-blooded three (like we've seen before), and that turned out to be the difference, even though the Knicks still had a chance to tie moments later.

Lillard ended with 21 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds.  We were going to grab him for our post-game interview, but MSG's Mike Breen and Walt Frazier wanted to talk to him, and we figured the extra exposure for Lillard was the better move.  We let them have him, and all they talked about afterward was how impressed they were by his humble nature- something we've become used to.

Lillard wasn't the only hero for Portland, even though his shot was the loudest.  Nic Batum continued this streak of consistent play, and finished with 26 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds.  He was the big reason the Blazers were able to withstand a big Knicks run in the third quarter.  Batum had 13 points in that third, and continued to deliver clutch shots.  

LaMarcus Aldridge was a beast on the boards, when Portland needed him the most.  Aldridge had 19 points and 14 rebounds, including a huge tip-in basket in the final minute.

The Trail Blazers got Wesley Matthews back for this game, and even though he wasn't a huge factor scoring the ball, he provided great defense, hustle, and leadership, as always.  

Portland's bench didn't end with sterling numbers, but Ronnie Price and Jered Jefferies turned in very solid performances.  Luke Babbitt grabbed some clutch rebounds, and hit two big three pointers.  And, Victor Claver's line on the stat page doesn't jump out at you, but he was once again effective, and provided his usual energy.

Two huge numbers on the stat page do jump out at you.  The Trail Blazers out rebounded the Knicks 47-37, and outshot them 51 percent to 43 percent.  Portland is now 12-1 on the season when they shoot just 45 percent or better.  The Blazers are also now 12-1 when they hold a lead after three quarters.

The loss dropped the Knicks to 12-3 at Madison Square Garden.

Now, it's the second of a back to back.  The Blazers have to find a way to emotionally get up again, this time in a setting that won't compare to MSG.  But, they'll battle one of the hotter teams in the Eastern Conference in the Toronto Raptors.  The Raptors have been on a run since they lost by 18 in Portland in December.  The Blazers didn't even play well in that game, yet recorded an easy win.  They went 0-20 from behind the three-point line in that game, and it didn't even matter.  They won't be able to get away with that tonight.

The Blazers are now 1-0 in 2013, and 10-4 since the start of December.

Talk to you later tonight.


  1. Great blog mike and I think you make a great point about being prepared. the blazers seemed to be comfortable doing what they were doing and didnt veer off that game plan. crazy composure for such a young team; i guess damian's example really permeates the team.

    Also, batum being consistent... what's crazy is that he made some ridiculously foolish plays throughout the game. he's actually been pretty inconsistent in his specific play, yet he's constantly making plays that overall he's always producing. He's gotten better every year, I can't even imagine what he'll be in 2 years when he cuts out the nonsense!

    by joe.k on 1/2/2013 9:33 AM
  2. Hey Mike I had a great response written and my Internet shut down and lost the whole thing. The bright side is that Ancientone may not gain too much weight so quick.

    This was by far the best road victory since whenever that was that we beat OKC on the road. It was also the most impressive game of this season, of course of this whole year of one day. Sure the SAS game was more important, but it was at the RG and the Spurs has been noted to coast from time to time. Maybe NYK's took us lightly but it was our team play that destroyed them.

    Over at OR-Live, I was reminded of the thrashing NYK gave us last year with the constant dunks and bombing of three points when we were already down by more then 20, I said then that we would return and paybacks are a bitch. Maybe the 19 point lead at half time wasn't a statement, but it sure let them know we are to be reckoned with. The only thing missing was Felton. But DLill taking him to the cleaners at the RG will be better for the fans then the MQG so maybe paybacks for him is still in order. I think DLill will clean his clock and I hope to see the 50 pts prediction reversed.

    Individual stats are great, but it was the team play that beat the Knicks. they let Anthony get his and kept the others under control, then surprised him with dbl teams. That was great.

    BTW, Mike, I am not trying to get you into the zebras discussion, but from your advantage point could you see an actual foul on JJ to give Anthony the and 1, I was watching the NY announcers and play, but even then I couldn't see a foul.

    I am ♥'in our Blazers. on to Toronto for a tough game, but winnable.

    by Hg on 1/2/2013 9:58 AM
  3. Hey Joe K: don't rag on my batum to harshly LOL. yes he did make some bone head plays throughout the game, one three point attempt was so far off I thought it was a pass, or maybe it was but the player didn't show up. Nevertheless, Batum is in a relatively new role with being a facilitator when they jamb Lillard, but in the grand scheme of things you are right he makes his presence felt. Same with JJ, if he actually fouled Anthony that was really a bone head play, but that first quarter more then made up for it.

    by Hg on 1/2/2013 10:06 AM
  4. Hg - ha, your batum... he's my favorite player too! Which is why it drives me crazy when he does stuff like that! he is soo good, and i still think we're barely seeing his true potential!

    and good call about the jj foul (or no foul) hey, Hg, check out my blog on this site, id love to see your comments

    by joe.k on 1/2/2013 10:33 AM
  5. @joe,k: I don't know how to find your blog. I went to the blog list. I am computer challanged.

    by Hg on 1/2/2013 10:59 AM
  6. I almost thought we were backward in that in the last three minutes we seemed to be fouling them so they could score with the clock stopped.

    by Ancientone on 1/2/2013 11:15 AM
  7. Great game and a great win! Very impressive way to ring in the New Year. Batum played pretty darn good. If he can just cut down on his turnovers (there was a stretch of 4 games where he had 18) . Tonight will be a true test for sure. Back to back in a game we "should" win! If they can get the win tonight, then this will be a successful road trip no matter what happens in the next two games. BTW, we are in 2nd place!!!!! Who would have thought? GO BLAZERS!!!

    by daddylogan on 1/2/2013 11:34 AM
  8. daddylogan:

    I don't understand second place. we are third in our division and 8th in the conference.

    by Hg on 1/2/2013 11:50 AM
  9. My bad...we were in 2nd place in our division for a brief period until Denver won it's game over the Clippers!!! Hey, we had it for a few hours!!!

    by daddylogan on 1/2/2013 11:59 AM
  10. FYI: Just so you guys know, Lillard just opened a lot more eyes with not just his performance last night, but his big shot at the end. I've been reading a bunch of comments from Knick fans about Lillard, and some of them even invaded Lillard's Facebook page. Just hitting that shot in Madison Square Garden at that point in the game was just a big eye opener. Of course that means more teams are taking notice and will try to come up with game plays to try to stop him.

    Anyway, here is a highlight reel of Lillard's performance last night that features the Knicks announcers:


    by Shem on 1/2/2013 12:03 PM
  11. @Hg - click on my name (joe.k in red) and then on the left you should see My Blogs. click there and you will see them

    everyone else - feel free to check out my blog trying to find a new stat to evaluate teams

    by joe.k on 1/2/2013 12:28 PM
  12. @shem - nice youtube clip - i;m from NY and I ill never grow old of hearing clyde frazier's crazy terminology! Thumbs up for calling Dame percocious

    (also he called the blazers pugnacious last night!)

    by joe.k on 1/2/2013 12:34 PM
  13. Going into NY and getting a win is huge. However, as I said before, Portland had a ton of practice time in the month of December. Playing connected on O and D is what I expected. Nice win. Momentum is with us. Ride the wave.
    Victor is a cool headed character. I like his game. He does what coach wants.
    Joel should get some run tonight.
    LaMarcus played strong. He is a true vet.
    Lillard. Words can't describe his play. We found a gold nugget.

    by the golden ladder on 1/2/2013 3:00 PM
  14. Hg;
    JJ did foul him. Comcast had a clear view of it. He got past JJ and was fouled on the back of his head. Silly foul yes, but JJ was cold. He was on the bench for a LONG time. I was surprised Stotts decided to go back to JJ at that moment. I am sure Stotts second guessed himself after the foul.

    by Divotking on 1/2/2013 5:27 PM
  15. by Divotking on 1/2/2013 5:28 PM
  16. i can't really comment much on the win over the Knicks; i didn't even look at the boxscore until today. though i won't complain about being at the Rose Bowl and seeing Stanford take care of business against Wisconsin.

    great to get a win like that over a quality team. i've been impressed at the wins we've had against quality teams lately like the Knicks, Nuggets and Spurs.

    what i'm not liking at all is this lackluster performance by the guys against the Raptors. Ten minutes remain in the 4th quarter as i write this comment. i can't understand in the least why we don't get up for these games. i bet someone will being up the fact we're on the second night of a back-to-back and we expended a lot of energy to beat the Knicks, but seriously; these guys get paid way to much to use fatigue as an excuse.

    i think i'll stop there. really, i hope to go 2-2 on this road trip. would love to see 3-1, but after tonight, i don't think that's a possibility. i just wonder about the games against the Grizzlies and Wolves ... will the Jekyll Blazers show up, or the Hyde Blazers?

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 1/2/2013 5:58 PM
  17. loved the game but I'm with Kassandra...did we come to Toronto?
    it surely wasn't the same team.
    Looking forward to Memphis on Friday. I hope there is more energy.

    by allie-oop on 1/3/2013 3:28 PM
  18. Even the immortal Mr. Barrett is having a tough time finding some positive about the Toronto game. It's cool Mike. Some games go straight to the garbage bin.
    Much larger task at hand. Two western conference teams. Memphis first. Their strength is our weakness. Points in the paint. Tough matchup.
    Minnesota. Don't like them. If we sneak in the playoffs, it's them we may be battling. Both big games. These games become important at the end of the season.

    by the golden ladder on 1/3/2013 3:47 PM
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